Cruiser: County Class - United Kingdom (Europe 1940)

Cruiser: County Class - United Kingdom (Europe 1940)

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Part Number:EU40_UKCRU

County Class Cruiser

Ship/ Class

Length

Beam

Disp.

Main Arm.

Speed

#

Date

County Class

590’

68’

10,400

8x8” (4x2)

32

13

1924

 

County Class Cruiser

 

ID: Plastic battleship gaming piece: County Class Cruiser, from the game Axis & Allies Europe 40 & Pacific 40.

 

The Story of the County Class Cruiser:  The County class cruisers were a set of ships that the British built rather reluctantly.  The Washington Conference on naval arms limitation had enabled the war-weary victors of World War I to avoid a costly arms race in “capital ships” (battleships and battlecruisers.)  It had also found it necessary to set upper limits for the size and power of cruisers, to prevent them from creeping up in size and power into battlecruiser range and negating the terms of the Treaty.  The British had been keen to keep their brand-new, 9,750-ton, 7.5”-gunned Hawkins class cruisers, while the US and Japan were already considering ships of a similar size and armament.  The Japanese design, which would later become the Furutaka class, was smaller at 7,950 tons, but mounted larger 7.9” guns.  The major powers thus had little difficulty in agreeing on limits to be set at 10,000 tons and 8” guns, parameters set, as it turned out, rather arbitrarily, since it would later turn out that it was almost impossible to build a truly “balanced” design on 10,000 tons with 8” guns.  (A traditional, balanced design was considered to be one with an armor belt that was proof against its own main guns at expected combat ranges).  The problem was that the British had really wanted to build a large fleet of smaller, cheaper cruisers in order keep a watch on their far-flung colonial possessions, while the Americans and Japanese wanted to build smaller numbers of larger, longer-ranged cruisers, which both saw a better tools to project their power over the vast reaches of the Pacific Ocean.  Faced with the prospect, however, of potential rivals fielding cruisers that could over-power hers, Britain ended up building a sizable number of what would soon come to be known as “heavy cruisers” or “treaty cruisers.”  Rather old-fashioned-looking with their triple stacks, the County class cruisers were solid designs, not revolutionary in any way, but competitive with foreign designs in most of the key particulars.  Like most of the new-style treaty cruisers, the Counties carried their main armament in super-firing turrets, battleship style; for the counties a very conventional 4x2 arrangement was chosen.  Also like most of the treaty cruisers, since it was that a balanced design was not really possible within the 10,000-ton limitations, it was powerfully armed, yet lightly armored.  Add in the fact that cruisers were seen as far more expendable than the Royal Navy’s prized battleships, the Counties saw plenty of action, and were probably fortunate to only lose 3 of their number to enemy action!

 

Usage Notes: Use this piece for “Global 1939” and “Invasion of Italy” Variants as a cruiser unit.  Other British warships of interest may be: the Revenge class battleship & the Illustrious class aircraft carrier.

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